Morning Prayer: Feast of All Hallows (Nov. 1st)

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Psalm: 111, 112
Old Testament: 2 Esdras 2:42-47
New Testament: Hebrews 11:32-12:2

Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honour and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he is ever mindful of his covenant. (Psalm 111:2-5)

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend on FB about reading the Bible. She is genuinely interested in reading it, but–like all of us–has a hard time with some of the more miraculous stories, and the depiction of God as a vindictive deity.

I promised her that I would post on this blog about how the Bible might be read in a different way. A way that focuses on relationship rather than by myth, theology or narrative…so here’s my best shot at it. πŸ˜‰

Like the psalmist says this morning, all of God’s works are known….and like all great acts of history, those deeds tend to be recorded. πŸ™‚

The central themes of the Old Testament are many…..but they tend to revolve around two important aspects…creation and covenant.

In Genesis, God creates the world…..and it is not just good but very good. He also establishes a covenant with humanity that he will make them prosper…and that He will constantly be at their side.

But human beings–made in the image of an all-creative Father–also have an innate desire to be independent…..which causes them to sin….and to turn away from their one true companion; the God who made them.

At the risk of being overly simplistic, the rest of the Bible focuses in on how that broken relationship is lived out, and repaired…..that intimate bond between Father and children is built up, broken, and established again in a constant cycle. A cycle that ultimately ends with God and humanity coming out in joy and praise to take care of the earth and each other.

At its core, the Bible is a multi-faceted library of documents. I would go even so far as to say that it is an ongoing and eternal conversation.

As the reader flips through the pages of text, they are exposed to a multitude of voices……some divine, some human. Some sentiments of anger, hatred, and frustration…..met in turn with compassion, forgiveness, and Grace.

Despite what the reformers would have us think, Holy Scripture does not interpret itself …Adhering to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy will only leave with a pounding headache and a broken heart.

As a piece of literature, inspired by God and touched by the human hand…..it is a mixture of perfection and inadequacy….a living encounter between the Creator who wants his presence to be known…..and a world that struggles to listen for it’s Maker’s voice.

On this Feast of All Saints, one thing to keep in mind that we too are saints…by virtue of being baptized πŸ™‚

Whenever we open the Bible we join with the thousands who have come before us in trying to discern God’s will and true hope for us. We add our 2 cents (or 5 cents or 25 cents) to the conversation.

In the struggle to understand what God is saying to us and what we are saying to one another, Christianity is changed from a hollow, inanimate religion into a living, breathing, challenging Body of faith

Sure, this Body is weak and wounded at times….but is also glorious and triumphant when we get the message of Jesus right ;)….a message that we as Gentile North American inheritors of the Gospel have come to know through the written translation of the Bible.

Thanks be to God for the gift of his word on paper….but more importantly for the Word made Flesh that speaks from within those pages. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Feast of St. Matthew the Evangelist (Sept. 21)-Combo Post

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Psalms: 119:41-64, 19, 112
Old Testament: Isaiah 8:11-20, Job 28:12-28
New Testament: Romans 10:1-15 Matthew 13:44-52

β€˜The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matt 13:44)

For tonight’s reflection, I am totally going to steal from Bill Cliff who is the chaplain over at St. John the Evangelist @ Huron University College

While I was at the Common Ground conference back in June, I attended a workshop on teaching and preaching the parables. In the course of that discussion, Bill said that the stories of Jesus are meant to shock us….and not only that…but they speak to the character of God. They give us insight into the type of person that the Father is, and how he acts in the world.

Traditionally, the story of the hidden treasure is taken to mean that the disciple finds the saving news of the gospel, and follows it above all else. Yet…this seems to skip over one very important aspect…..the first sentence that our Lord speaks.

The simile which is set up at the beginning of tonight’s passage is not a disciple is like…Instead the emphasis is on God…Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like….

This shift in focus means that our understanding has to change as well. The treasure in the field doesn’t refer to what we find and rejoice over….It’s about what God finds and rejoices over. πŸ™‚

Like the parable of the lost sheep or prodigal son in Luke….the shocking message here is that God believes we are invaluable. He rejoices over each and every one of his creations. Saints, sinners, tax-collectors, gay, straight, rich and poor…..the Trinity constantly invites us and seeks us out to join in their dance of celebration and redemption.

The apostle Matthew–whom we celebrate today–was someone who was classified as a traitor to his people…a person who turned his back on his religion and people….a person whom YHWH would never even deign to look upon.

Yet this is the same man who encounters emmanu el….God with us….and receives an invitation to follow in the way that leads to life. May we have that courage which leads to a resounding “yes” and helps us to remember that we are all gifts from God. +

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